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University of Pittsburgh    
2018-2019 Undergraduate Catalog 
  Jun 21, 2024
2018-2019 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Bioinformatics, BS

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Biological Sciences Requirements

Students in all five majors within the Department of Biological Sciences must follow general rules and fulfill certain general requirements in addition to those in their specific major:

  • A total of 32 credits in biology must be taken (see specific course requirements for each major below). All biology courses taken for the major must be completed with a C or better. If a C- or lower is earned in a biology elective course that is not repeated, the course will be used in calculating the overall GPA in the major but will not be counted as part of the 32 credits required for the major.
  • Co-requisite courses must be taken in chemistry, physics, and mathematics and/or statistics, including
  • CHEM 0110  and CHEM 0120  General Chemistry 1 and 2, which includes the labs,
    • CHEM 0310 CHEM 0320 , and CHEM 0345  Organic Chemistry 1 and 2 lecture and lab,
    • MATH 0220 Analytic Geometry and Calculus 1,
    • Either MATH 0230 Analytic Geometry and Calculus 2 or STAT 1000 Applied Statistical Methods, and
    • Either the algebra-based physics, PHYS 0110 and 0111 Introduction to Physics 1 and 2, or the calculus-based physics, PHYS 0174 and 0175 Basic Physics for Science and Engineering 1 and 2.
  • A minimum GPA of 2.00 must be maintained in all biology courses and in the combined co-requisite courses. The S/NC option (formerly the S/N option) may be used for only one biology course and for any of the co-requisite courses.
  • The Dietrich School required related area is fulfilled by the co-requisite courses in chemistry. Departmental writing (W) courses may be selected once the major is declared and count towards the 32 biology credits for the major
  • Opportunities for faculty-sponsored directed research and internship experiences are available and strongly encouraged. Academic credit awarded from the departmental W, directed research, and internship courses count as credit toward graduation, but not in determining the 32 biology credits required for the major. Students interested in departmental honors should contact department advisors for information.
  • University Honors College equivalents for any of the above courses are accepted. Credit by examination is available only through appropriate AP scores for equivalents to BIOSC 0150, 0050, 0160, and 0060 Foundations of Biology 1 and 2 and labs.

Updated information about the department, major requirements, and course offerings is available on the department’s Web site,


The undergraduate bioinformatics degree program at the University of Pittsburgh is operated jointly by the departments of biological sciences ( and computer science ( This program offers training that builds a solid foundation in chemistry, biology, computer science, mathematics, and statistics. The training will enable students to communicate fluently with experts across these disciplines and to have the skills necessary to apply computing tools to address contemporary problems in biology and medicine. It will enhance the professional opportunities for undergraduates to pursue careers in pure or applied research in academia, government, pharmaceutical, medical, or biotechnology sectors.

Advising for Bioinformatics majors is housed in both the Department of Biology and the Department of Computer Science. For information, contact one of the advisors.


* CHEM 0110 - GENERAL CHEMISTRY 1  and CHEM 0120 - GENERAL CHEMISTRY 2  are pre-requisites to taking CHEM 0310 .

** Students without a background in programming will be encouraged to take CS 0007 - INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTER PROGRAMMING  prior to taking CS 0401 .

Electives (12 credits)

Electives (12 credits) to be chosen from an approved list of courses in Statistics, Chemistry, Biological Sciences and/or Computer Science. With the approval of the Bioinformatics Program Committee, the student may take electives in other departments.


* Undergraduate Research is taken over multiple terms for variable credit. Four credits of undergraduate research are required for the major. Research can begin as early as the sophomore year and must be approved by Kirk Pruhs in the Department of Computer Science, or Paula Grabowski in the Department of Biological Sciences.

Capstone experience

BIOSC 1640  and CS 1640  satisfy the bioinformatics major capstone experience requirement. Capstone request must be made to Kirk Pruhs in the Department of Computer Science.

Additional requirements and restrictions

  • Bioinformatics majors who have completed CS 0401  may not enroll in CS 0004 , CS 0007  or CS 0110  
  • BIOSC 1000  cannot be substituted for BIOSC 1810 .
  • CHEM 1810  can only be substituted for BIOSC 1810  if it is not possible for the student to schedule BIOSC 1810  
  • Students must complete at least one W-course in the major
  • A grade of C or better is required in each of the core and upper level courses that are to count toward the major.
  • This requirement also satisfies the Dietrich School requirement of a minimum GPA of 2.0 in major courses
  • Elective courses for the major must be completed with a grade of C or better. If a C-or lower is earned in an elective course for the major and is not repeated, the course will be used to calculate the overall GPA but will not be counted toward the 32 credits required for the major.
  • Students must earn a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the required chemistry and mathematics courses.
  • No Bioinformatics major courses may be taken on an S/NC basis
  • Due to its interdisciplinary nature, the Bioinformatics major does not require a related area

Honors major requirements

Honors in Bioinformatics is granted if, in addition to fulfilling all requirements for the major, the student:

  • completes three semesters (3 x 2 credits) or the equivalent (summer counts as a semester equivalent) of undergraduate research together with a written honors thesis presented in the last semester of the senior year;
  • maintains a GPA of 3.5 or above in all Bioinformatics major courses; and
  • maintains an overall GPA of 3.25 or above.

Approved elective course list

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